The first homes have been built, construction has started on others, and a pioneering clean energy project designed to harness ocean thermal energy is taking shape in a new residential development known as Spirit Bay, near Sooke.
Spirit Bay is a partnership between the Sci'anew (Cheanuh) Beecher Bay Band and the Trust for Sustainable Development, a Victoria-based company that specializes in building new towns. When fully built, the Spirit Bay development is expected to have approximately 500 mixed residential units, a waterfront spa, and a town centre with offices, shops, and recreational facilities on 40.5 hectares. Construction is expected to take 10 years.
In 2015, the ocean thermal project received $400,000 in support from B.C.’s First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund. The money is being used for an equity investment in an ocean thermal facility that will use the heat available – even in cold ocean water – to supply heat to homes.
“We expect the system to be up and running in 2016,” says Spirit Bay representative Andrew Reeve. “The pipes needed for the closed loop system have been laid and the ocean thermal system will soon be in operation, supplying heat to homes and providing sustainable benefits to band members for many years to come.”
Heat will be extracted from the ocean using heat exchangers and pumps, and delivered to the development through a district heating system. As designed, the ocean thermal system has the potential to heat and cool about 110 homes; it has been designed to create revenues for current and future band members who will operate a utility company that will provide a reliable, low-maintenance heating source for residents.
Provincial government funding for the First Nation’s equity investment in the project follows successful completion of a feasibility study in 2015. The study evaluated designs, vendors, systems and best locations for the ocean thermal system.